“Being a preschool teacher is so easy”, “Working with preschoolers must be so much fun”, “preschool teachers don’t have much to do, just be there and take care of the children, sing songs, and give children some activities to do”, These are just some of the many comments you get to hear all around you as a preschool teacher. While some of the comments are true, many are just casual comments from those who don’t know any better. These sorts of misconceptions come from people who have not done enough research and are being swayed by the idealized versions of preschools and preschool teachers portrayed in various media.
It is true that being a preschool teacher is a lot of fun; you have new experiences every day, your classroom is bright and colorful with the children’s displays, and you have many moments filled with craziness and laughter, but you also have days when things can quickly spiral out of control, children crying and falling sick, there and meltdowns and outbursts to handle, many times it is difficult to understand what the children are saying since they come from different backgrounds and speak different languages, all this makes it is far from being easy. The teachers make it seem effortless, but that comes from experience and after hours of meticulous planning.
If you are interested in working or becoming a preschool teacher, then read on because there are a few things you should be aware of –
Few Things You Should Be Aware of Becoming A Preschool Teacher
1. Preschoolers Need to be Taught Social Skills –
When working with preschoolers, no matter how good or perfect your lesson plan may be, all of it goes out the door when the children in your class are being unruly and don’t know how to sit down and pay attention. Even before beginning to teach concepts like colors, shapes, and numbers, a preschool educator needs to teach the children how to sit up straight, walk in a line, share the classroom equipment, ask them to use the washroom, and wait their turn to speak. Since children come from varied backgrounds and speak different languages at home, the teachers need to even teach them the common names of things around them.
2. Most Work Happens After Hours –
Most preschool educators give the impression that they are good at their work because they love being around children. While this is a precursor to being a preschool teacher, it is not enough. Good preschool teachers spend hours after children have gone home, planning and preparing each element of their school day. The formal teaching element of preschool may not seem much, but the indirect teaching or learning that occurs in the classroom has all been carefully planned by the teacher. Even a free play activity or a simple storytelling session requires a lot of preparation in terms of presentation, choosing and keeping the materials ready that target specific developmental areas in children, and so on.
3. Spread Awareness on Developmentally Appropriate Practices –
This is a very crucial element when working with preschoolers that most parents are unaware of. A preschool teacher knows and recognizes that each child is different and begins school with their own set of skills and strengths. While teachers do their best to help and promote the various skills in child development, they know that each child develops at their own pace and that different skills develop at different times within a child.
Parents need to know that it is not possible for every child to be good at everything they do. It is not possible for each child to become a great orator, a good singer, a dancer, an artist, a musician, an athlete, or a sportsperson. It is natural for parents to want their children to be good at everything, which is why they tend to compare their children with others. As preschool educators, it is our responsibility to make parents aware of the differences in children and to talk to parents about developmentally appropriate practices.
4. Always Be Prepared –
When you become a preschool teacher, you need to learn how to be prepared for anything. Some of these might even require you to have a spare set of clothes in your locker. Preschool educators learn to put away their shyness and inhibitions and dance like crazy with the children, get on the floor with them as they teach, keep away all distractions, and fully immerse themselves in the children and their work. You also need to be prepared to mop up spills and clear up the mess as soon as it happens.
There will be days filled with excitement, fun, and laughter, and there will be times you have to patiently deal with anger, screams, and crying. Children will fall and hurt themselves, and they might get sick too. A preschool teacher also needs to interact with parents. Unfortunately, not all of them are the same, and dealing with some of them might require extra patience. Dealing with these is also part of the job.
5. Back-Up Plans are A Must –
As mentioned earlier, when teaching in preschool, you need to always be prepared, and having back-up plans is a must. Keep in mind the teaching objectives for the activity or the core objectives for the day, and keep a few extra activities handy. You never know when a particularly enjoyable activity may suddenly turn just because one Child has a bad experience and the other children don’t want to do it anymore, or an activity got done much earlier than expected. Since children learn best through play, it is a good idea to prepare and keep ready some hands-on, self-directed activities to keep children busy.
6. Each Child is Different –
Even though the classroom is filled with children of the same age, a preschool educator will know that each child is unique and that the proficiency level of different children differs. So also is the case with the learning style of each child. Some children learn by jumping right into the activity, while others will first observe for a while before fully participating. It is the responsibility of the preschool teacher to identify the unique needs of each child and then give them the opportunities required to further develop those skills and, if need be, even talk to the parents about ways they can help the child reach their developmental goals.
7. Preschools are Early Education Centres –
It is often necessary to emphasize that preschools are not glorified babysitting centres for parents to leave their children as and when they please. They are also, in fact, centres for education just like a normal school. The teachers put tremendous effort into helping the children build their social, emotional, motor, cognitive, and learning skills and as well as teach foundation concepts that will later help them when they go to school. Hence it is necessary for children to also be regular in their school attendance and for parents to take timely feedback from the teachers.
8. Remember You are Making a Difference –
Preschools are the first schools that the child goes to, and the early educators are their first teachers. It is the responsibility of these teachers to build a love of learning and to encourage curiosity in children. From being unable to hold a pencil to the beginnings of early writing, from being unable to speak and understand English to being able to communicate their needs in English, know that you’ve made a difference. It is the support and guidance that you extend towards each child that helps them in their future learning. The experience and learning that a child has in preschool will remain with them for a long time and will definitely make a difference in later years.
Even though the job is difficult and there will be trying days, at the end of the year, when you see the children walking in a straight line, confidently holding a pencil to write, being able to sit attentively in one place and focus on what the teacher is saying, even the spontaneous hugs and kisses you receive or a genuine bright smile when they see you, the look of pride when a child has mastered a new skill makes it all worthwhile and makes you want to be a preschool teacher over and over again. There is never a dull moment in a preschool classroom, and you get to be at the forefront of every child’s new learning experience. A preschool classroom is a world of its own, and it truly is a wonderful place to be in.
Or you can Click here to visit a EuroKids centre near you and see for yourself first-hand what a day in preschool looks like for a teacher or even have a one-to-one conversation with a teacher in one of our centres.
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